As a student assistant at a university, I experienced blown film extrusion for the first time. The base materials are plastic granules. They are melted in the extruder and forced through a ring nozzle with a pressure of up to 500 bar (approx. 7,300 psi). This creates a film tube which is inflated to a height of about 18 meters (approx. 60 ft.). After flattening, the tube is cut into two sheets of film and then rolled up. Blown film extrusion is a lively process – totally fascinating.

Welcome to the Ch‘tis!

I studied mechanical engineering specializing plastics technology. My mother is French and I went to a bilingual grammar school in Bonn. However, while I was studying, I hardly spoke any French and forgot a lot. But then I had the opportunity to do my internship at RKW, Remy in Saultain. Saultain is in northern France where they speak “Ch’timi”. At first, it was difficult to talk to the machine operators. However, after two months my language skills had “gotten up to speed.” That’s when we began working really well together. I am still in contact with my French colleagues. They appreciated the fact that I made the effort to do everything properly and communicated with them in a relaxed manner. The atmosphere at Remy was almost family-like; and now in Petersaurach, it’s very similar.

From engineering to law

My internship lasted for six months. Immediately thereafter – and still in Saultain – I wrote my thesis. My subject was the use of production waste in lamination films for food packaging. This subject has a lot of different aspects, from product quality to legal issues. In a series of tests, I explored the quality of manufacturing and suitability for contact with food as well as the mechanical and the optical characteristics of the recycled film. The traceability of the packaging is just as important as it is for the foodstuff itself. You have to be able to establish the origin of the granules that are used for each individual item of film packaging. This follows through the whole value added chain.

The best of both worlds

My telephone rang when I had submitted my thesis to the examination office and was just leaving the university. RKW offered me the opportunity to be a trainee with Petersaurach as my starting point. I already knew both the location and my present mentor through the series of tests for my thesis. I didn’t take long to think about it and accepted the offer because at RKW I have the best of both worlds – a family-run business and a global player. Here, I have all the opportunities – including international opportunities – I am able to gain responsibility at an early stage, and am not simply a cog in the wheel. I already see myself as a part of the “RKW family.”

I want to gain experience in testing new materials, work with the equipment, and make progress with the other work colleagues. My mentor always treats me as an equal and takes the time to explain a lot. I never need an appointment - I can always go to him. For me respect means the capacity to value what I bring with me as an employee. To trust me enough to delegate me my own duties. My trainee program finishes in December 2014. After that I will be taken on permanently in Research & Development.

My first product ...

Whilst I was a trainee I went to seminars on patent law and sealing media. In December 2014, I will be participating in a conference on synthetic materials that come into contact with foodstuffs. My first product has been submitted to the internal testing procedure. It is a film for glue-free lamination to be used for food packaging. Forgoing the use of glue saves the customer time and money.